Festival Directors Kate Howat and Dave Horsley with Festival Patron Jack Thompson
Festival Directors Kate Howat and Dave Horsley with Festival Patron Jack Thompson
Festival Directors Kate Howat and Dave Horsley with Festival Patron Jack Thompson

SWIFF ’23 is Booming with Cinema From All Around the World


Theatres across the Coffs Coast region of NSW are preparing for a record influx of film lovers from April 20 to May 5, with regional Australia’s largest film and screen celebration, the Screenwave International Film Festival, breaking its previous ticket presales record again last week, ahead of the full SWIFF’23 festival line-up becoming publicly available at SWIFF.COM.AU from Saturday March 11th.

SWIFF Directors Dave Horsley and Kate Howat have curated over 140 feature film screenings and special events this year, the most expansive program in the festival’s eight-year history, with Australian screen icon Jack Thompson returning as SWIFF’s Festival Patron.

Presented by Squealing Pig Wines, SWIFF’23’s Opening Night Gala will launch the festival onThursday April 20, hosting Rolf de Heer’s FIPRESCI Award-winning film The Survival of Kindness, a controversial story about race and privilege that won the international critics top accolade of Berlinale, with Rolf de Heer, cast, and crew travelling to the Coffs Coast for the NSW Premiere of the film at SWIFF in Coffs Harbour.  

SWIFF’s eighth festival program will present 80+ different features films from over 30 countries across the world – from Cannes award-winning favourites EO, Joyland, and Aftersun, to biting satires and hilarious comedies Give Me Pity!, Ruben Ostlund’s Triangle of Sadness, and Owen Kline’s Funny Pages, plus a host of insightful documentaries including Laura Poitras’ Oscar-nominated All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, big wave surf movies that see Australians surfing the frozen Russian coastline in Corners of the Earth: Kamchatka, and films with an ecological focus including Bob Brown Tasmanian forest conservation documentary The Giants.

As part of its Wild Sides program, SWIFF presents weird and wonderful (but mainly weird) genre movies including Eduardo Casanova’s vulgar tragicomedy La Pieta, plus a strong contingent of new Australian stories in its Australian Cinema program, with Goran Stolevski’s two new features Of An Age and You Won’t Be Alone and Jolyon Hoff’s Afghani-Australian history-finding soul-searcher Watandar, My Countryman, alongside the debut documentary from Bellingen-based filmmaker Matty Hannon, travelling from the tip of Alaska to the Southern point of Patagonia on motorbike and horseback in The Road To Patagonia.

As a festival with movie watching at its heart, SWIFF hosts a selection of self-reflective films on films, including David Lynch Wizard of Oz crossover documentary Lynch/Oz, acclaimed French director Hazanvicius’ (The Artist) new blood-soaked filmmaking satire Final Cut, and a dedication screening of Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso to pair with the Italian master-director’s latest feature, focusing on the life and work of Italian film composer legend Ennio Morricone in Ennio: The Maestro. SWIFF also features a program of films for families with Family Fiesta, and a strand for music lovers with Music and the Makers. 

Aside from a strong contingent of new international cinema, this year’s festival includes retrospective highlights of prolific directors David Cronenberg and Rolf de Heer, including the 30th anniversary of Bad Boy Bubby, plus a host of anniversary event screenings for William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (50th anniversary) and the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski (25th anniversary) – both with free trivia sessions beforehand – and a live soundtrack performance to accompany the 100th anniversary of Harold Lloyd’s iconic slapstick comedy Safety Last!.

This year’s festival again will play host to young Australian filmmakers travelling from across the country to attend the Nextwave Youth Film Awards world premiere finalist screenings and awards gala, with 28 short films selected from a record-breaking 150+ new Australian short films made by filmmakers aged 10 to 25.

Film screenings and events will be hosted at the CHEC Theatre, Jetty Memorial Theatre, and the newly upgraded Bellingen Memorial Hall from April 20 to May 5.

Starting from grassroots in 2015, SWIFF has firmly placed the Coffs Coast on the Australian film festival circuit, set amongst the beaches and mountains of Coffs Harbour and Bellingen, with the festival known for its genuine and unashamed love of the shared cinema experience, and its creative and innovative 16-day annual program – the most expansive in regional Australia.

With the additional news this week of Russell Crowe’s new $400m film studio project, the Pacific Bay Studios & Resort, aiming to start construction of five soundstages early next year in Coffs Harbour, the Coffs Coast is becoming a beacon of focus for Australia’s film and screen industry.

Press Release

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